Minor Damage to Your Car in an Accident Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Minor Injuries

December 10, 2012

Auto Accidents

neck pain from auto accidentSometimes a so-called “fender bender” can be much more.  What seems like a minor car accident leads to long-term injuries for one, or perhaps, all of the parties.  For this reason a motorist who is involved in an accident that seems insignificant needs to take some very important actions.

Even if auto accident injuries initially seem minor:

  1. Don’t equate minor damage to a vehicle with minor injury to its occupants.  Given the adrenaline of the event, a person may be unaware of the damage their body has sustained until days, weeks, even months later, in some cases, even years.  If you just take over-the-counter medicine and go about your routine, not even reporting the accident to the police or the insurance companies, or not going to the hospital for a checkup, this could be a very big mistake in the long run.
  1. Document your auto accident injuries.  Take pictures of your damaged vehicle and any physical signs of injury to your person.  Write down names, addresses and contact information for witnesses, if possible.  Pay particularly close attention and record any statements made about speed, traffic signals, stop signs, blind spots, swerving, aggressive or defensive driving, or comments on the condition of a vehicle.  This may later be useful in court to establish a causal connection between the accident and the external situation surrounding it or to note the origin of any long-term injury that you may develop.
  1. If you have a discussion with any insurance person (yours or the other party’s), do not  remark that you are feeling “fine.”  These types of comments could come against you later in court.  If you say anything to an adjuster from the opposing side, just  mention any symptoms of injury or physical discomfort that you are experiencing.
  1. If you experience any change in how you feel after an accident, seek immediate medical help.  Better to find out nothing is wrong than to ignore a condition that becomes progressively worse and could even be life-threatening.

Some of the most common late-appearing car accident injuries are whiplash injury and concussions.

Whiplash injury generally involves soft tissue in the neck, but can affect any neural pathway including the spine and the extremities.  Symptoms can include muscle spasms, headaches, stiffness in the arms and shoulders, dizziness, numbness or weakness in afflicted areas, slowed reflexes and reduced range of motion.  Whiplash injury may cause only a few days of pain or it could lead to lifelong problems.

A concussion is actually a traumatic brain injury in which the brain strikes the inside of the skull.  There is some sort of temporary loss of brain function.  This can manifest as confusion, blurred vision, headaches, depression or anxiety, amnesia, irritability, lethargy, difficulty concentrating or reasoning, loss of balance, vomiting, disorientation, convulsions or insomnia.  It, too can be a minor car accident injury or a more serious one.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is another common traffic accident injury that may not arise until several months after the actual car crash.  It involves misplaced situational anxiety that follows a traumatic event and can manifest itself in a variety of ways.

A tragic example of what appeared to be a fairly minor auto accident injury (but actually wasn’t) is told in a recent issue of Trial.  A 30-year New York woman, Christina Grossman, was attending college and looking forward to her upcoming marriage when she was involved in a traffic accident.

It occurred in October 2004 when a SUV struck her car in an intersection pushing it into a stopped car.  In the impact, Grossman’s airbag broke her wrist and propelled her arm into her forehead, knocking her unconscious.  Initially, she was treated at the hospital, but not detained there as she was considered only slightly disoriented.

Several weeks later Grossman began exhibiting obsessive-compulsive disorder behavior.  She would not read or write anything involving the number six and would not go near a black car, the color of the car she was driving in the accident.  She washed her hands repeatedly and when certain words were said to her, she performed several other rituals she believed to be necessary including turning the lights on and off.

The young woman thought if she did not follow her rituals someone would die and this belief was intensified when two doctors who were treating her died suddenly just after she had stopped the rituals in an effort to end her compulsive behavior.

Eventually Grossman’s fiancé broke their engagement and married someone else.  By that point her behavior was so severe that she rarely left her home.

All of this because of a relatively minor auto accident injury.

Grossman’s lawyers said Allstate (insurers for the opposing side) never offered more than $100,000 to settle the case over the many years it continued. (One reason it took eight years to settle was because Grossman also frequently disappeared and could not be contacted.)

By focusing the jury’s attention on the type of ramifications, a later-appearing auto accident injury can produce, Grossman’s attorneys were successful in June 2012 in obtaining a substantial settlement to compensate her for years of mental suffering.

An experienced auto accident attorney can be what stands between you and the compensation you deserve.  Someone who understands Ohio’s traffic laws and insurance laws can help you when you attempt to recover for the negligence or recklessness of others.

Contact Slater & Zurz LLP at 1-888-534-4850 to discuss your car accident injury or fill out the FREE CASE REVIEW found at the top of our website at www.slaterzurz.comIt is important to take action as soon as you suspect injury even if you do not initially believe the matter is serious.  Make an appointment with your doctor and follow his or her instructions, then contact our law firm.  If you do not have a case, nothing is lost but a small amount of your time.

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About slaterzurz

Slater & Zurz LLP is an Ohio law firm of highly experienced and respected attorneys. Over the last 40 years, we have developed a reputation for getting positive results for clients. We've been trusted with handling over 20,000 personal injury cases and our clients have received more than $120,000,000.

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